Saturday, October 31, 2009

On With the Show

So at yesterday's coffee ** we got onto the topic of worship and leading worship. All three of us have spent plenty of time on the platform making music for various congregations. Their experience has been primarily in a traditional setting as choir members working for very classically-minded choir directors. You may have figured out I'm mostly into rock and roll church. The discussion was in principle a simple one: should those leading worship necessarily be worshiping?

Now, anyone who has ever done anything like this knows that some days you are just distracted, but I'm not talking about your bad days, I want to focus on the best case, when circumstances are ideal.

The conclusion from my traditional friends was that they virtually never worship during their musical presentation. They are too concerned with any number of things, such as the complexity of the piece (will they hit that difficult note in the 27th measure?) or their appearance (is their robe on straight?). Believe me, I wish I was making these up. But that sounds like a put-down, which it is not my goal. These are real, honest revelations of what goes on in their heads on Sunday morning.

All worship leaders (including those leading via music, speaking, or prayer) balance the need to be connected with God, to appear to be connected with God, and to facilitate the connection of others to God. My choir friends weight these in reverse order: the facilitation is most important, followed by the appearance. Actual personal connection is not on their radar Sunday morning. (To be fair, they will describe times of real worship, but they are not in the corporate setting Sundays.)

I guess I just don't see it that way, but maybe there are folks in the pews who need this. Since we can't read others' thoughts and hearts, I can't say what's really going on. Still it is difficult to hear words like "I couldn't worship this morning because they forgot to move that speaker to the side." Again, I wish I was making this up. Are the connections between people and God so tenuous that something so trivial (to me anyway) can interrupt the divine praise that is genuine worship? Or is there ever real corporate worship going on for these folks?

I have a lot more thinking to do on this one.


** you might have read past posts about morning coffee conversations. While most posts have related conversations with my very progressive pastor friend, this coffee was with two good friends who are from a church point of view very traditional.